Course in Miracles or Four Steps to Forgiveness?
“William Martin has written a powerful guide book on learning how to forgive, not just our brothers and sisters, but also ourselves.” Jon Mundy, Ph.D. author of Living A Course in Miracles.
Students of A Course in Miracles sometimes ask me, “How does The Four Steps to Forgiveness compare with Course in Miracles?” As well as being interested in the differences between the two they are also wondering whether they are compatible.
I see The Four Steps to Forgiveness and A Course in Miracles (ACiM) as being highly compatible and completely complementary. As a way of getting started in forgiveness, the method of The Four Steps to Forgiveness is quick and easy to learn. Unfortunately, deeply profoundly as it is, no one can honestly describe ACiM as being quick or particularly easy to learn. The Four Steps to Forgiveness is a simple technique which helps people access their natural capacity to forgive. It does not require the person to study anything, or to believe in anything. Yet if they do study forgiveness, such as through Course in Miracles, their use of The Four Steps to Forgiveness is greatly enhanced. In turn, working with The Four Steps to Forgiveness also helps students of ACiM get insights into the deeper working of that material.
We could think of The Four Steps to Forgiveness as a very useful preparation for aCiM and it can be used as that. However, any workable approach to forgiveness, steadily applied, takes people to a deep level and can bring profound experiences, so the “Four Steps” does this too.
One the frustrations of being a student of A Course in Miracles is how to introduce others to the forgiveness, without risking putting them off by handing them 1200 or so pages of the ACiM material. Offering someone a course, which can take a year or more to work through, is not always the best way to help them learn how to forgive – especially when they have an issue they need to deal with right now. It is not helpful to hand someone an encyclopedic tome about, say, Car Maintenance Methodologies when they have a punctured tire. What they need is an immediate and practical quick fix and afterwards they may be more amenable to hearing about a wider and deeper perspective. Although ACiM is clearly a course about forgiveness, even some students of it are unsure how to go about forgiving a specific person for a specific thing as the lessons tend to have a much more general focus.
To understand where The Four Steps to Forgiveness fits in to the bigger picture it is important to keep in mind the current state of the world. In many places people are in process of loosening their connections with traditional religions and are wary of anything with religious or spiritual associations (no matter how profound). In some countries it is actually a criminal offense, with sometimes very severe punishments, to appear to have renounced one’s religion (do an online search on “Apostasy” if you find that hard to believe). Also is some countries the governments frown, to put it mildly, on books or material which promote “religious” ideas. In these situations the completely secular approach of The Four Steps to Forgiveness allows it to be openly available and openly used without putting people in danger. Though thankfully, ACiM is making headway in some of those problematic countries either directly, or via the work of Gary Renard, Marianne Williamson and the like.
If someone is using the Four Steps to Forgiveness to help them, for example, save their marriage. Not only would no student of ACiM object to that, but very few authoritarian governments, or religious authorities, are likely to object either. On the contrary they may well encourage it. Yet, the simplicity of The Four Steps to Forgiveness, and the fact that it does not come with any religious associations, means that people can readily adapt it to a specific religion (or culture) – if they want to.
Every method of teaching forgiveness ultimately comes from the same source and our primary goal must be to serve that source; not to only serve a particular method. Any sincere student of A Course in Miracles realizes that they are also a teacher of forgiveness. The method a student of the ACiM offers to others does not have to be limited to being only ACiM. If we come across someone ripe for learning how to forgive we can offer them whichever method seems most suitable for that person; CiM, The Four Steps to Forgiveness, or whatever.
As a student-teacher of forgiveness, please try The Four Steps to Forgiveness yourself so you can see the ways in which it is useful to you and those you “teach”.